Is it enough to be crazy in your writing?

Today I’ve been busy taking care of the normal things at Dad’s; I also have to pull together a manuscript for 12×12 in 2012 before this month ends – in only four more days! Yikes! Hopefully I can spend time on that this afternoon while Dad is resting, but first ..

when I saw the following quote on Twitter I knew it would be a great topic for today. My other blog ideas will have to wait awhile.

“Being crazy isn’t enough.” – Dr. Seuss

Dr. Seuss was famous for his much-loved zany stories and characters. They may have been written with a message, but what was important was that they were fun, funny, and memorable. But why were – and are – they so popular? Besides the fact that they are a delight to read, could it be because they were different, daring, and really stood out for their uniqueness? At the time they first appeared in the publishing world, illustrators were mostly creating commonplace characters, what was expected, created with care to fit the norm. But not Dr. Seuss. He did not fit the mold, neither as an author nor as an illustrator, and he didn’t want to – even though he was warned to not veer away from what was being accepted then because doing so could only mean failure.

These days you hear two different minds on the topic of what to write. Some say to be sure to offer what publishers are looking for or risk your hard work being tossed aside. Others say to submit the different things, things that are not the trend, because how else is the trend going to change? How is your work going to be noticed if you don’t take that chance? I have even read that some publishers are waiting for the outstanding off-the-trend work, something new to get excited about in the piles of the usual submissions.

How do you feel about that?

Look at a few more of Dr. Seuss’ quotes that reveal his philosophy:

“I like nonsense, it wakes up the brain cells. Fantasy is a necessary ingredient in living, it’s a way of looking at life through the wrong end of a telescope.”

“Think left and think right and think low and think high. Oh, the thinks you can think up if only you try!”

“In my world, everyone’s a pony and they all eat rainbows and poop butterflies!”

Now, does that last one sound like a normal thinking mind that sticks with the every-day-the-same routine that produces the every-story-must-fit-the-usual? I think not! 🙂

What do you think Dr. Seuss meant by ‘being crazy isn’t enough’? Do you think it is  enough?

What do you think you have to be, or have to do, to become a ‘best read’ author?

How willing are you to take chances and be different to be noticed by an editor and/or publisher? Do you ‘dare to be different’?

Thanks for reading, and … Creative Musings! … 🙂

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10 responses to “Is it enough to be crazy in your writing?

  1. Love this post Lynn! Dr. Seuss quotes are the best! Being crazy probably isn’t enough. Being crazy-smart is probably a better choice. But that’s not easy. Risk taking can cost a writer the chance of publication, but to really hit it big, a writer has to offer something new – a risk. Here’s a few things I’ve found out the hard way during my writing career:
    1. Readers & publishers don’t want something SO new that they can’t get into your story. If the POV or the plot is too convoluted, you probably are too crazy and not quite smart enough. (Been there done that!)
    2. Readers love to learn something new. If you go back all the way to the 1930s and read the bestseller lists from that time until now, you’ll find that the writers who break into that elite group for the first time are writing about something the readers don’t know but find fascinating. Timing is important, so for fiction writers that means being the one who can write “The Kite Runner” just when Middle Eastern societies are bigtime in the news and most people would like to know more about the real-life humans behind the blitz of headlines and stories. So the crazy is definitely paired up with smart.
    3. No matter how crazy or how smart the story, the reader wants to be able to identify with the main characters. That means that something about the character(s) have to take the reader’s heart – the flaw, the conflict, the heartache. EMOTION!

    SO woohoo, Lynn, for CRAZY and SMART!!!!!

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    • oh Sue, you inspire me! Thank you for this very thoughtful and informative comment and for sharing from your own personal experience.
      Crazy-smart … maybe this is what Dr. Seuss meant.
      Sometimes I can be crazy, sometimes I can be smart .. but I don’t know yet if I can combine the two in my writing. It just may be worth the try.
      As I read your comment, my WIP (that’s the first time I have even called it that) – my NaNo novel – came to mind. There is so much work yet to be done on it, after over 80,000 words the story is not finished; there are a few different ways to bring it to its finale. It’s not quite the ‘usual’ story ..

      Thanks for your continued encouragement, Sue. Blessings. 🙂

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  2. I hope you get your 12×12 goal reached!! I like reading books that are a little goofy or unusual (but they have to be a good story too)!

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    • I hope I do, too. Thanks, Erik. I’m cutting it awfully close this time!

      Dr. Seuss had a unique view of life, I think. You know .. he never stopped thinking like a kid. 🙂

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  3. One of the things that allowed Dr. Seuss to remain popular and continue to produce best-sellers was the craft behind the craziness. If you’re going to produce a garden-variety bodice ripper, it’s not so hard. If you’re going to tell a green eggs and ham kind of story, it takes a lot more work.

    His stories are so tightly woven I hate to think about the hours of work that lay behind them. I once did a parody on “The Grinch Who Stole Christmas”, and by the time I got done, I was filled with admiration for his structure.

    We tend to think of “crazy” as – well, loose associations, a free-wheeling spirit and not much discipline. But, to quote the good doctor, no matter how vivid our imaginations, “crazy isn’t enough”! We have to be able to communicate our visions to other people – that’s where the craft comes in.

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  4. Great post on one of my heroes! I think, as writers, we have to push ourselves to the limit of what we can do, regardless of what the market wants. It’s our responsibility as artists. It may or may not be “published,” but the only way things move is when people push the edges of boundaries – as Seuss did.

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    • Thanks, Julie, for your thoughts on this. I am still getting my thinking around actually calling myself a writer, so as yet I really have little idea of what I can do as one. I do believe, though, that the market should not dictate what we write as much as we influence what is read – or at least, available to read. Suess seemed to have no fear. He swam against the flow and was successful.

      Thank you for giving me something more to ponder.

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  5. I love Dr. Seuss. Most of us do. I believe his work will be around for eternity or at least I hope.

    I’ve never thought of being any one other than who I am when I’m writing. I’ve never thought of trends or markets. Right or wrong that’s just who I am. Although I can be a bit crazy (just ask my kids) it hasn’t yet come out on the page. Not to say it won’t because anything is possible. I think Dr. Seuss would have been a blast in real life. 🙂 Great post, Lynn!!

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    • That’s one thing I like about you, Laura. You are you. And I like the you I am getting to know. You are a strong writerly influence in my life and I appreciate the you you are. 🙂
      Thanks, Laura!

      Like

I look forward to reading your greatly appreciated comments. Thanks for making my day! :)

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